New Accelerated Program at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee Campus To Help Fill Gap in Nursing Shortage

Updated: Jan. 16, 2020 at 7:17 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The University of South Florida has added a new program that may change the future of health care on the Suncoast.

USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus opened a new health college nursing skills lab this week.

In cities like Venice - where this is the only hospital in the area - you’d think there wouldn’t be a shortage in nurses, but it’s a problem that keeps growing.

“We’re going to have an even further shortage of nurses coming on because as we all know, we’re opening up new facilities in our community, and that’s going to add to the demand,” Charles Baumann, Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition

Two state-of-the-art hospitals will be coming to the City of Venice in the next few years. A new and improved Venice Regional Bayfront and Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s first South Sarasota County Campus.

“We believe they’re going to need maybe up to 3,000 nurses into the future. That may be five years away, but in a bachelor’s program, it’s a four year program, we need to start doing this now,” Baumann explained.

The University of South Florida is doing that. Their accelerated nursing degree program is officially underway at their Sarasota-Manatee campus - offering a path for students to earn a nursing degree through a four-semester program, and is designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree.

“We’re giving them a lot of real-world experience here in the lab before we actually send them out to the clinical environment to our surrounding community sites,” Natasha Zurcher, the director of the program, explained.

This new program and lab will not only opens the doors for more local students to be licenses, but also to help train nurses more effectively.

“You’re reliant on them completely,” Baumann said, “and do you not want them to have the best education possible and make sure that what is needed is done in the efficient matter and going to take care of our needs?”

This first semester had 120 applicants, with 30 students selected. The program hopes to admit even more nursing students here within the next few months.

“Really at the end of the day, it all boils down to safe patient care. That’s the ultimate goal. Taking care of your family, my family, and really making a positive impact within our local community here,” Zurcher said.

“We want to make sure that we are giving them the best foundation possible. USF is stepping to help provide that,” expressed Baumann.

An open house will be held in February for new students at the facility on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

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